Qantas' ambitious plan to restart international flights from July 2021 will also involve a reboot of its long-range fleet, with the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner replacing the Airbus A380 on flagship routes to London and the USA.
As the full scope of the airline-crippling coronavirus became clear, all 12 of Qantas' superjumbos were put into hibernation at a storage facility in Victorville, on the edge on California's Mojave Desert, where they're expected to remain "for at least three years," Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said in June 2020, "until we see international (demand) brought back."
With the A380s grounded, the airline's Kangaroo Route from Sydney to London via Singapore will now be handed over to a Boeing 787.
Since the early 1970s this 24-hour trek was the exclusive domain of the Qantas Boeing 747, with the jumbo supplanted by the A380 superjumbo in January 2009.
Other Airbus A380 routes being taken over by the Boeing 787 include Sydney to Los Angeles and Sydney to Dallas/Fort Worth, which ranks as one of the world's longest flights, while Sydney-Johannesburg moves from the now-retired Boeing 747 to a Boeing 787.
The Sydney-Singapore leg of the daily QF1 Dreamliner service to London will be complemented by a stand-alone Sydney-Singapore flight, which like most of Qantas' other Asian services will be now flown by an Airbus A330.
This also includes Sydney-Tokyo and Melbourne-Tokyo, although Sydney-Hong Kong will feature the more modern Dreamliner.
The Qantas Boeing 787-9 offers 236 seats in business, premium economy and economy class, compared to 485 seats on the Airbus A380; the Airbus A330-300 which will dominate most Asian routes carries 297 passengers in business and economy class.
July 2021 will also see the resumption of Qantas' daily Melbourne-Perth-London Boeing 787, meaning that Heathrow Airport will see a pair of red-tailed Dreamliners.
At the time of writing, the Qantas schedule shows both the Sydney QF1/QF2 and Melbourne QF9/QF10 as arriving at and departing from Heathrow Terminal 2 due to the temporary closure of Terminal 3, which previously hosted Qantas flights and was home to the airline's London lounge.
Heathrow Airport has previously indicated that Terminal 3 will reopen as demand rebuilds; the terminal was previously also used by Virgin Atlantic, Cathay Pacific, American Airlines and Emirates (all of which have lounges there) along with Finnair, Japan Airlines and others.
As previously reported, British Airways has suspended its own London-Sydney flights until at least October 30, 2021, although the daily London-Singapore service remains in place.
BA's most recent schedule showed its Kangaroo Route flights downgraded from a Boeing 777-300ER to a Boeing 787-9.
A British Airways spokesman told Executive Traveller the extended delay for returning to Sydney was "due to the current Coronavirus pandemic and global travel restrictions."